Former President Donald Trump said House and Senate Republicans should flock to his “Make America Great Again” agenda if they want to retake congressional power in 2022 cycle and set the tone for the next presidential cycle.
“If they want to win, yes,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “We’ve expanded the Republican Party.”
Three months after leaving office, Mr. Trump still looms heavily over the GOP, serving as a kingmaker for midterm hopefuls while flirting with a 2024 run.
His staying power is forcing party figures to walk a fine line between his enduring popularity within the base and soul-searching around their loss of the House, Senate and White House and fallout from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol inspired by Mr. Trump’s claims the election was stolen.
Republicans insist they’re within striking distance of retaking the House, while Senate seats are in play in swing states like Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida as both parties jockey for the upper hand in the currently 50-50 chamber.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy visited Mr. Trump in January to discuss ways he could help the Republican Party retake Congress, though it’s an icier situation on the Senate side — Mr. Trump reportedly called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a “dumb son of a b——” during a Republican National Committee donor retreat in Florida earlier this month.
The incidents and a series of post-presidency statements through his formal office — he’s banned from Twitter — suggest Mr. Trump has no intention of staying out of the limelight.
Mr. Trump said adhering to his America-first principles will help GOP, citing inroads among Hispanic voters in the last cycle.
”If you want to win and win big, you have to do that,” he told Mr. Hannity.
Mr. Trump also faulted President Biden for upending his get-tough immigration policies and allowing cooperation with Mexico to slip, leading migrants to believe they have a better chance of entering the country.
“All he had to do was leave it alone,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Biden.
Mr. Trump told Mr. Hannity he would have been pilloried for scenes of children packed into pens at migrant centers, especially in a pandemic.
“They’re playing it down as much as they can play it down. It’s a horrible situation, could destroy our country,” Mr. Trump said. “There’s never been anything like what’s happened at our border. People are coming in by the tens of thousands. They’re walking in.”
Mr. Trump piled on in a statement from his post-presidency office. He said Mr. Biden should reinstate the travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries that sparked protests and legal battles during the Trump administration.
“Terrorists operate all over the world and recruit online,” he said. “To keep terrorism and extremism out of our Country, we need to have smart, commonsense rules in place so we don’t repeat the many immigration mistakes made by Europe — and the USA prior to ‘Trump.’”